LifeThyme: Best fucking grocery ever »
Ok, I may be a bit of a fangirl here, but LifeThyme is the coolest fucking grocery store in the entire fucking world. Family-owned? Check. Responsive to customers’ desires? Check. Lots of vegan specialty food? Uh huh. Good to their employees? Fuck yes. ALL-VEGAN BAKERY? OMFG YES FUCK YES!!!
LifeThyme is a super-store. Even though it’s super-tiny, and you always feel like you’ll knock down an entire aisle of exotic maple syrups, it has everything the conscientious consumer could desire—an all-vegan bakery (that also offers many gluten-free options, AND MAKES THE MOST DELICIOUS POPCORN IN THE WORLD FRESH RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR EYES!!), a hot foods/soup bar that has many vegan options, and a juice bar (with the coolest smoothie-makers around) with vegan options (including FRESH coconut water!!!). Regular-grocery-style, it’s fully stocked everything you could ever want that is vegan as well: a good selection of soy/rice yogurts/milks; Amy’s frozen dinners; specialty baking products; seitan; tempeh; expensive cashew cheeses; raw chocolates; vegan kale crisps—the kind with the creamy garlic flavor—etc., etc. There’s also an upstairs lifestyle area with eco- and animal-friendly cosmetics and personal hygiene products. Plus, it’s not Whole Foods :)
But I really feel that I have to plug their gorgeous and amazing bakery. They have so many yummy things in that glistening case, it makes you want to hit the treadmill as soon as you see it. Lush chocolate cakes, apple-walnut scones, and coconut cream pie are just a few of the daily offerings in that magical corner of the market. It’s all I can do to not gain 249,328,429,340,284 pounds when I walk by that 100 percent vegan masterpiece. That’s right, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT VEGAN. Not a drop of animal-derived cruelty goes into the delectable delights.
So why the fuck are you still reading this? GOOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO. It’s on 6th Avenue in the Village between 8th and 9th Streets. Give them your business!!!
Anna’s Brooklyn Supermarket Adventures: Neck Road stop on the Q »
Another lovely Eastern European supermarket is Net Cost Market, at 2257 E. 16th St. off the Neck Road stop on the Q (way down in South Brooklyn). It’s worth visiting for several reasons, and only one of them is the food. Like so many tiny cultural bubbles in New York, it’s a completely different country. I’m not exactly sure whether that country’s Russia, or Poland, or what. Shuddup, I can’t read Cyrillic. But it’s a CRAZY COUNTRY.
There are a platoon of imperious women in large fur coats and blue eyeshadow, striding around like queens, barking orders in Czech? Latvian? Estonian? at their husbands. The supermarket has an entire AISLE for boxes of chocolate. Another aisle is devoted to cheap tea and odd jam. Yet another aisle is reserved for pickled vegetables; mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, in jars as small as a fist and as large as a jug.
There’s a wall of freshly baked bread—the loaves shaped like horseshoes are $2, a dark rye blend, and some of the most delicious, squishy, yeasty bread I have ever eaten. They’re on the left, in the cubby next to the bread counter.
The produce section looks fantastic, but some things are bargains while other things are expensive. They had seven varieties of pears, at least that many types of apples, and several were mondo cheap.
This supermarket, if you are anything like me (which, I dunno, I like reading historical novels, OK?), will make you imagine that you are living through a Russian winter, a stranger to the icy steppes. As you pore over the sour cherries in syrup, the eggplant spread, the boxes of tea, you’ll feel swept up in a romantic tide of expatriation. It’s a good way of dealing with those “winter blues” that make you want to “break things.”
It’s also an ace location to take pictures of people, as long as they don’t see you do it! Net Cost Market is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
Anna’s Brooklyn Supermarket Adventures: Golden Farm, Kensington »
Golden Farm! This peach of a store is in Kensington, at 329 Church Ave. off the Church Avenue stop on the F train. It’s always open! ALWAYS. It’s a royal mishmash of ethnicities and cultures—an Eastern European supermarket in an Indian neighborhood, with Latina and Asian girls at the registers, each moistening her fingers on a halved cucumber à la Old Russia.
You can find many good bargains on fresh produce, if you’re willing to poke around a bit and not be intimidated by the $6 carton of out-of-season strawberries. Beside the things listed below, root vegetables and cabbage are also incredibly cheap. Jars of pickled tomatoes and sauerkraut are tucked underneath the potatoes—just the right height for little old Polish ladies.
Asparagus, $1 per bunch
Pears (bartlett, Bosc, etc.) $0.79/lb
Apples (granny smith, fuji) $1/lb
Lettuce (romaine, red, etc) $1.50/head
Cabbage (savoy) $0.59/lb
Mushrooms (portobello) $3 for a package of two
Avocados (Hass) $1 each
Peppers (sweet and yellow; tiny, but in good shape) $1.49/lb
There’s also a reasonably priced bulk fruit/nut section, in old jars with wooden covers. The apricots are dirt cheap ($3.49/lb), gigantic, and unbelievably moist. Pistachios are $6/lb. Other bulk deals: a 2-pound package of buckwheat costs about $1, in the bean/rice section.
I must advise you, though, to get your butts out to this store if only for the “golden prune,” an umeboshi lookalike that’s out of this world. I’ve never seen this fruit anywhere else, and it tastes remarkably like an actual plum—tart, sweet, golden. It’s dried fruit that actually tastes like it used to be fruit—like it once hung on a tree with wind and rain and everything. It’s $6/lb as well, in the jar next to the apricots. Watch out for the pits.
Weird Cool Things:
Oh, there are so many oddities; just go to the jelly section—it’s intense. There are fruits that are a little rare, like quince and damson, but there’s also totally wacko stuff like watermelon preserves and rose jelly. I almost skimmed right over the jars with sweetened chunks of eggplant and pumpkin. You can buy black poppy seeds in bulk at this store, rose hips, dried camomile, four different kinds of horseradish. Basically, just slow down and keep your eyes peeled.
In addition to being a treasure trove of cheap produce, bulk dried fruit and nuts, and various oddities, this store is just REASONABLY PRICED, all around. In spite of stocking organic produce and things like agave and Amy’s, the store is pretty darn cheap, and somehow manages to feel old and homey. It’s a good place to drift and daydream.
Anna’s Brooklyn Supermarket Adventures: Sheepshead Bay, Q Train »
Ladies and germs! Jelly-jars and pickled calves’ brains! Lucid fellows and damselflies! Hello, one and all. I invite you, implore you, invoke you to follow me on my MAGICAL ADVENTURES!!
This is the first of a series of posts chronicling Awesome Supermarkets in Brooklyn (and maybe other places). Vast places, rich with eggplant and pineapple and odd varieties of jam! Strange places, with languages that you cannot read! Sometimes even grisly places with strange squiggly meat-parts! But mostly… CHEAP PLACES.
Stay close, bold vegans, under my Whisking Cloak, as I transport you first to Sheepshead Bay. It’s one of the last stops on the Q train, and the population seems to be mostly Russian and Chinese. Lots of little old ladies in fur coats. But don’t get mad at them, they’re little and old and Russian.
(The lady pictured is neither little, old, nor me. I don’t know if she’s Russian or not.)
When you get off the train, a plum of a supermarket is hiding next to the CVS, at 1414 Sheepsheadbay Rd. It is camouflaged, like a secret beehive. Draw closer, dear vegan, and enter the Outer Chamber of Mostly Overpriced Produce. There are baskets hanging from the ceiling, and fake vines! Press onward!
The actual store, Global Wholesale Market, is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
CHEAP/AWESOME: tea, bread, beer, chocolate, pickled things in jars
Russian supermarkets are good for the winter, or bunkers, or hunkering down. They’re good wartime food. They’re rations, like chocolate and nuts and pickles and jam. The produce isn’t always great, but dollars to doughnuts the bread/tea/chocolate selection is ace.
This Russian supermarket, like some others, induces glee solely through the cheeriness of its displays. A wall of Finn crispbread! A sale on Borscht! Chocolate boxes as big as your torso!
If you poke around a bit, you will find not just huge candy-boxes, but an aisle full of chocolate bars. And many are vegan! And hella cheap! (There are often English translations on the back.)
This chocolate bar is as long as my forearm. Its title is “airated rum chocolate”. Yes, it is flavored like rum. It is vegan, and about $2.
Most tea is under three dollars, and comes in surprising incarnations.
That’s nearly it for pictures, except this weird beer! Just ignore the freeze-dried fish in baskets near the floor.
Oh man, I wish I could show you all the rows upon rows of bread! Squishy whole-wheat with seeds, round nutty loaves, so many kinds of pumpernickel, gigantic round bagels, baguettes, bread so dark and dense it was positively dangerous.
But they cottoned on to my camera and asked me to stop taking photos! And rather than sneaking around, I felt bad, and obeyed. Which is too bad, because the bread and the Things in Jars were completely awesome to behold.
More supermarkets, photos, and neighborhoods to come
Review: Gardein Buffalo Wings! »
Because I’m Canadian, I got in on the Gardein craze a little before most of you Yankees, as the Great White North had that shizz a full year or more before the US of A. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I know my stuff when it comes to pea-protein-based fake meat, so let me lay on you my review of Gardein’s latest oeuvre, Buffalo Wings!
There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to vegan “wings:” there’s the breaded school (crunchy breading covered with hot sauce) and the not-breaded school. Gardein’s wings are of the not-breaded variety. They are, rather, wing-sized nuggets of Gardein’s magic “chicken” substance covered with a bright red (so you know they’re Buffalo wings) spicy sauce. They come frozen and in a little pouch with the sauce already on, which brings me to my first quibble—you need a microwave to get these out of the pouch and onto the baking sheet in a dignified way. If, like me, you live in a microwave-free household, you have to do what I did and pry those frozen little things apart with your bare hands, which kind of sucks. I mean, it’s hardly a dealbreaker, but you don’t want to do it while wearing a white shirt is all I’m saying.
Once you manage to get them on the baking sheet, though, it’s full speed ahead. The wings bake for about 15 minutes, and then you eat them. First things first: spicy alert! Like I said, I am Canadian, and I’m not terribly heat-tolerant, but these things have a kick! Don’t eat them if you have a bleeding ulcer! Personally, I like a touch more sweetness with my wing sauce, but Gardein’s Buffalo sauce does hit the spot. The wings themselves are satisfying and chewy and pleasantly stringy so that they get ever-so-slightly stuck in your teeth. Floss after eating if you have a date later! Serve with vegan ranch if you have it. I love me some vegan ranch and think that any way I can get it into my mouth is a-OK. I ate a whole package of these by myself for lunch (well, I guess I also ate three pickles with them, but since the nutritional value of pickles is “salt,” I don’t count them), which means I ate 2.5 servings, or 10 pieces. At around $4.50 per package, these ain’t no 10-cent wings, that’s for sure, but they’re certainly cheaper than the napalm-coated wings at Weird Fish (which I love, but they are too spicy). All in all, these are some tasty, reasonably-priced, and surprisingly healthy (not that I endorse counting calories at all, but these are pretty low-calorie, soy-free, and low-fat). Perfect for a night in, and, I suspect, highly compatible with beer.
These things are available in the freezer section at Rainbow and at some Bay Area Whole Foods, and if I know Gardein’s marketing and distribution people, I’m sure they’ll be widely available soon, if they aren’t already.
Product Review: Rising Moon Organics Vegan Gnocchi! »
These gooey, delicious pillows of pasta from Rising Moon Organics are totally vegan! HUZZAH! I’m obsessed with this stuff. It cooks in an easy five minutes and makes a filling meal. And check it out, zero grams of fat and three grams of fiber per serving—shweet!
I’ve tried Rising Moon raviolis in the past and I didn’t like them that much. I think it had more to do with freezer burn than anything else, but they just didn’t come out that great.
The gnocchi, though, it cooks perfectly. If you don’t like doughy food, you won’t like this, but if you are a gnocchi-loving vegan like me, this will hit the spot (don’t be a perv!). Plus, you get to make gnocchi jokes. Or you can sing that song, “another season, another reason, for making gnocchi.” A classic.
BONUS! Some fun facts from their FAQ section:
"Gnocchi is the Italian word for dumplings; in Italian, gnocchi is the plural of gnocco, which literally means ‘lump.’ They can be made of potato, semolina (durum wheat), flour, or [icky] ricotta cheese."
You can buy Rising Moon at a fine grocery store near you or you can order them delivered right to your door!
shopping vegan at the 99 Cent Only store (read: being broke AND awesome) »
I love the 99¢ Only chain. I mean, it’s dirty, has hella long lines, and may be actively displacing the people of West Oakland, but shit. 99 CENTS ONLY!
If you can look beyond the box of frozen sausage marinara for kids and neon green “less than 2% avocado” guacamole, you’ll find a veganic wonderland of expired goods and opportunity. The West Oakland branch (across the street from BART!) carries those delicious cartons of Imagine Organic No-Chicken Broth (four bucks at health food stores!), half moldy lemons and Smart Balance Light (regular Smart Balance has whey; these fuckers want to keep vegans skinny). They’ve got every necessary condiment aside from Vegenaise, those two Top Ramen flavors that are vegan (though the MSG headache still remains), soymilk (with high fructose corn syrup!), ricemilk (without high fructose corn syrup!), some obscure brand of soy chorizo, and gigantic bags of kettle corn.
Don’t forget the refried beans that taste like nothing (no lard! Yay!), totally ripe avocados, chipotle salsa (they call is “sauce” here but it’s the best!), corn tortillas seemingly made for Daiya quesadillas, almost attractive produce (you only need it for a one night stand!), and the light of my life:
Nacho cheese flavored sunflower seeds!
So rather than speculating as to why this synthetic nacho cheese powder is vegan, or asking yourself whether its ethical to consume metaphorical dairy products, I suggest one personal inquiry: “should I crack open the shell, or just chew ‘em up?”
Additionally, the 99 Cent Only store carries laser pens. This is the best way to play with cats ever. 99 cents!
[Ed.: Bryan May is new to Vegansaurus, and you’re gonna fucking love this guy. He grew up between christian rock and a hard place, but middle school found Crass, and all those forward thinking punx led him to coming out as a vegan to mom in 9th grade. It went well. He lives in the Westest of the Oaklands and is interested in making zines, taking pictures, child development, and trying to keep the company of cats (especially those with disabilities). He bleeds garlic and sweats nutritional yeast.]
Recipe: Beer Bread made with Pumpkin Ale! YES YES YES »
This is the easiest, best thing ever to make. You’ll want to never eat anything else. Slather it with Earth Balance, make sandwiches with it, swallow the loaf whole (dang! you’re talented!) or whatever. Just eat it immediately. Also, it’s super cheap to make and will sustain you for days. I mean, in addition to other things, Anorexic Annie.
All you need is:
a box of Trader Joe’s Beer Bread Mix.
a bottle of Dogfish Head Punkin Ale (In the SF Bay Area, you can find it at Whole Foods right now!)
1/4 cup melted Earth Balance (use organic, if you can! it’s better for the world!)
a little pumpkin pie spice or garam masala.
All you do is put the TJ’s Beer Bread Mix in a bowl. Stir in the Punkin Ale. Put the dough in a bread pan. Top with the melted Earth Balance. Sprinkle on the pumpkin pie spice or garam masala. Bake according to the package directions. Eat it all, be fat and happy. THE END YOU’RE WELCOME.
That’s where you’re wrong, Noe Valley Whole Foods. Other than that blatant lie, it’s adorable! Even getting some tofu paella for dinner! Way to turn it out, Baby Valley Whole Paycheck! (har de har har)